Monday, June 25, 2012

JUNE - The Double Challenge with FMQ

The day after my post earlier this month with my practice piece for SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge, the old Singer 15-91 was pushed to one corner of the sewing room, and in her place a brand spanking-new Janome Horizon 7700 sat on the cutting table, awaiting its first tryout.  A few days before my birthday my incredibly sweet husband announced that my gift would be a brand-new sewing machine, but I had to choose which one.  Hence, the double June challenge:  to create the block using a brand-new machine - me, who has never used a sewing machine newer than a 1960s Kenmore, and up until two weeks ago the only machines in the house were vintage Singers.  But, this is a year of learning, so cold-turkey it would be.  The new Janome would create the Challenge block presented by our teacher Cindy Needham.  There were a few adventures along the way, as you will soon see, with breaking threads and a fabric or batting, not sure which, that was determined to bunch up and create wrinkles across the top of the design.  So, this is how we progressed through the challenge, my Janome and me ...

Day 1

I started by drawing a 10 1/2 inch circle, added a few flowing lines and some spikey leaves and quilted those - probably my first mistake was not pinning more closely and completely enclosing the circle, trapping the fabric which either stretched or shifted while quilting.

Day 2

Drew and filled in feathers, added a couple more dividing lines.  Beginning to really spot some problem areas to be conquered.  Another lesson:  drawing too many lines close together gets really confusing when under the FMQ foot! 
Day 3

Drew grid and filled in with "Diane Shiko."  Big puffy areas becoming even more prominent, yet I like where the design is going.  Wet areas showing here from spritzing the blue washout lines.

Day 6 (or maybe 7?)  this morning around 6:30

I'm thinking this circle "block" is about finished, having stippled and curlique'd some of the worst puffs into relative submission.  A few ripples and small pleats seemed unavoidable however.
This is the back.
And here's a close-up.  Can see that there are a few areas around the upper right feather that still need background fill - another day.

Now to ponder awhile about how to quilt a border around all this so the final piece will be rectangular.  But that won't be finished this month, so this is my June entry.

Happy to report bonding with Janome is progressing well, though we're still working on finding that magic 'humm-purr.'  That will probably happen once the drop-in table arrives from the warehouse across the country.  The machine is still sitting on my cutting table and too high to FMQ comfortably.

I LOVED this month's challenge.  A big THANK YOU! to Cindy Needham, our most excellent tutorial expert, and to SewCalGal who goes above and beyond making this huge challenge such a success!


  1. Great job. You will love your Horizon 7700, I do mine.

  2. Your June FMQ Challenge is so gorgeous! Happy to hear you are bonding well with your Janome 7700! What a sweet husband you have to give you such a lovely birthday present.

  3. It's always hard to get used to a new machine, but you jumped right in and started on this complicated piece. Looks like you did a great job! Smoothing out the border will be a challenge, but just use micro-stippling or some lines really close together and you'll be able to get it to lie flat.

  4. Wow! Lucky you with a brand new sewing machine! Your quilting is really wonderful. Doing it over a few days is a really good idea; I don't know what made me think it had to be done all at once. Thanks for the tip.

  5. Gorgeous! I love that you did it in a circle. And quite the challenge to do this on your first date with your new machine! You 2 will be a wonderful match!

  6. That is really nice. Congrats on the new sewing machine.

  7. oh nice to have that new machine,eh....glad for you!! I think your quilting of this piece is just fantastic!!!! I don't think I will ever get to this point....I get so tense when I start;hand quilting is my thing. but I want to learn to be comfortable with FM.

  8. Beautiful stitching....and great designs. You did a wonderful proud. It is very hard to do this on an elevated machine, and you will so love the recessed table. One comment on slippage....if you are using an all polyester batting, you will probably get that no matter what you do. Try a poly/cotton blend or all cotton and see if that helps.

  9. So very beautiful. Love it.


  10. Your piece is beautiful! Debbie's suggestion is what I have been using (Hobbs 80/20 - cotton/poly) for my FMQ and it seems to have the right amount of "poof" for the trapunto effect without causing too much bunching. I did use all poly for my QAL micro stippling (Leah Day) but it was really a low loft and that worked well, also. Your first project certainly goes above and beyond what would have been expected on a very new machine.....and will get even better! You have set the 'bar' quite high!!

  11. Lovely work Pat and congrats on your new sewing machine. Lucky girl! I love your new blog and especially your cover photo!

  12. Your quilting is beautiful and I love the circle, awesome design!!

  13. Very nice and I'm jealous of your new machine. Hope you grow to love it.

  14. What beautiful fmq. You got the hang of your new Janome and the challenge. Congrats on winning this month. I am inspired. I checked your site from SewCalGal's because I also had a Babci with a treadle machine that we kids all played with when we visited her. I have that machine now but don't use it.


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